I have been consumed with MOPS for the last 36 hours...and I am blessed to have been so! Friday morning was our regular MOPS meeting; our pastor's wife talked to us about the importance of quality friendship (studies show women with close friendships live longer & are physically healthier!) and helped us understand how we can *be* better friends by worshipping God (receiving God's grace & guidance so we can give it), being there through good & bad (ministering just with our presence, even when it's uncomfortable to sit there), risking our vulnerability (being open to build trust & it being a release for us to share our burdens with each other), and showing unconditional & unfailing love! (Proverbs 27:9) I always want to keep growing to be better friend, so that God can make my friends better & happier for having spent the time to connect with me. I am so thankful for MOPS, for the friendships, support, & stability it has provided, even at the points when our lives haven't been so stable.
After MOPS, Annelise & I ran our errands and came home to bake another half-batch of the famously easy & delicious pumpkin chocolate chip muffins for me to take on my MOPS overnight steering retreat. (BTW - they were a HUGE hit! Not surprised! ;-)) Each year, the steering team (leadership) of my current MOPS group goes away together for a retreat. When we last lived here, one girl on steering's in-laws have a lake house they let us stay in about 2 hours away; when I went in 2007, it was the first time I had *EVER* left my kids overnight, even with Daddy. The years we went to the lake house, we'd be gone for 48 hours (noon Friday to after church Sunday.) That steering member "aged out" of MOPS (her youngest kid turned 6) last year while we were living in Chicago, so now that I'm back here this year, we have a new retreat format. We stay in town at our mentor mom's house & are only gone for 24 hours; but they are just as precious! There is NOTHING like sharing your life, esp. struggles & burdens, with a group of women who you know share your values, WANT to pray for you, and want to hug & support you. We also planned our meetings, speakers, & activities through the end of January, which is always super productive, and had a great devotional this afternoon about how God speaks to each of us. This year felt particularly interesting, since I missed last year b/c we had moved, the format changed, and all but 3 of the steering team were "new"; but it was really cool to reflect on how I had grown in the last 4+ years, to see how a few of these women & I had grown together despite the gap, and to connect so genuinely with the new ones. I always feel stronger after the retreat!
I am so thankful that my AWESOME husband got to spend time with the kids while I was gone last night and all today, that God brought me to MOPS years ago, that this is my 5th year of fulfillment on steering, and that I am blessed with quality friendships.